Employers have an obligation to furnish their employees with a workplace free of hazards. Employees can also do their part to ensure a safe and hazard-free workplace by staying vigilant and using common sense. Workplace injuries happen every day, and it’s important to understand your rights if you’ve been injured on the job. A workers’ compensation claim may help manage your expenses after an injury, but prevention is better than a cure.
Slip and Falls
The most common type of workplace injuries are slip and fall accidents. If an employee loses footing, falls, and injures him or herself, the employer may be held accountable. If employers wish to avoid these unfortunate scenarios, keep the following tips in mind around the workplace:
- Stay clean and organized. Clutter can easily create a tripping hazard, and good organization leads to a more efficient and safer workplace. Materials should be stored in designated areas when not in use, and equipment needs to be properly stowed as well. Clear walking paths of clutter to ensure employees are not in danger while traversing narrow walkways.
- Have the proper equipment. Your employees should not be using folding chairs – or worse, rolling office chairs – to reach elevated areas. Invest in ladders, stepladders, and stepstools where necessary. A small expense for the proper equipment is better than an expensive workers’ compensation claim or personal injury lawsuit.
- Keep clear lines of sight. Narrow passages and tight corners are hotspots for collisions. Mirrors in the corners of hallways help employees see what’s coming around a corner so they can avoid collisions.
- Watch your floors. Workplaces in certain industries may have slippery floors, and most smooth floor surfaces can be slippery when wet. Be sure to have carpeting and slip-resistant floor coverings in areas that see heavy foot traffic. Entrances and exits should also have slip-resistant floor mats or carpet for when employees come inside from bad weather.
Strikes from Objects
After slip and fall injuries, the second most common workplace injuries are those that occur from employees being struck by objects. This hazard is particularly prevalent in construction site injuries, where building materials and tools may fall from scaffolding or lifts, endangering those below. Struck-by injuries can also happen in less hazardous workplaces, simply due to poor organization. When you store or stack boxes or equipment, set the heaviest items closest to the floor. Heavy items falling from any height can be dangerous – even deadly, in some cases.
Encourage a Safety-Focused Workplace Culture
Education is one of the most effective methods for limiting workplace hazards. Make it a point to let your staff members know they are valued and their safety at work is a priority. Encourage employees to speak up if they have concerns or notice anything out of place or hazardous. Proper training is also a necessity – employees not only need to know how to perform their job’s duties – they need to know how to do them safely.
Know Your Rights
As an employee, you are entitled to a safe workplace. If you’ve been in a workplace accident, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim to cover medical expenses and lost wages from time spent out of work, but workers’ compensation rarely covers the total costs of a workplace injury. In some cases, a personal injury lawsuit against your employer may be necessary. An example of such a time would be if your employer was notified of a hazard in a timely manner but took no action to address it before it caused an injury.
If you’ve been injured at work, or you are an employer facing a lawsuit, it’s vital to know your rights and what your legal options are; contact an experienced legal firm today.